The sudden disappearance of Beall’s List of potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers was one of the more dramatic sagas I’ve come across in the scientific publishing/librarian fields. Here’s a bare-bones timeline of the story (cobbled together from No More ‘Beall’s List’ by Carl Straumsheim, Beall’s article What I learned from predatory publishers, and the Wikipedia page on predatory open-access publishing):
- between 2008 and 2010: Jeffery Beall, librarian and researcher at University of Colorado Denver, first posted his list of predatory publishers on the Posterous blog platform.
- January 2012: Beall launched a blog called Scholarly Open Access that listed predatory publishers/journals and also offered criticism of scholarly open-access publishing.
- August 2012: Beall posted his criteria for evaluating publishers.
- February 2013: Beall added a process for a publisher to appeal their inclusion in the list.
- 2013: OMICS publishing group threatened to sue Beall for $1 billion for including them on the list (this threat obviously wasn’t successful, since the list lived on for another 4 years).
- January 17, 2017: The list was taken offline. Beall describes his reasons for taking down the list in his article What I learned from predatory publishers:
In January 2017, facing intense pressure from my employer, the University of Colorado Denver, and fearing for my job, I shut down the blog and removed all its content from the blog platform.
So that’s the story in a nutshell. Beall’s List was highly controversial (angering both open-access publishers included on the list and some open-access advocates), but it was also incredibly useful, with many researchers and librarians using the list as an authoritative resource to identify predatory journals to avoid publishing in and using for research.
Thankfully, there are still ongoing efforts to identify predatory journals and guide researchers towards high-quality, reputable journals for publishing and research. Many of these efforts utilize or build on Beall’s work. Here are a few ways Beall’s legacy lives on:
- Archived versions of Beall’s List: Some LibGuides and blogs link to or post archived versions of the list. A site called Beall’s List of Predatory Journals and Publishers (hosted on Weebly) also appears to be built from archived versions of Beall’s List.
- Active updates of Beall’s List: The website Stop Predatory Journals seeks to continue updating Beall’s list through a collaborative community effort. It’s unclear if this page is still regularly updated, though, since the last post on the homepage is from February 10, 2017.
- Cabell’s Predatory Journal Blacklist (subscription tool): A Nature.com article titled Pay-to-view blacklist of predatory journals set to launch describes the new subscription-based predatory journal blacklist from scholarly-services firm Cabell’s International. Rick Anderson at The Scholarly Kitchen offers a detailed review of Cabell’s list.
- Guidelines for Avoiding Predatory Journals: The website Thinkchecksubmit.org provides guidelines and resources for researchers to help them identify reputable journals where they can safely publish their work.
Are there other ways researchers and librarians are working to identify and avoid predatory publishers? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!